Thanks to the fashion industry’s fast-paced nature, marketing in this industry takes quite a different approach, with much shorter cycles than other industries. While in other industries, companies can run the same marketing campaign for years, marketers, PR professionals, and advertisers in the fashion industry have to constantly keep looking for new trends, ideas, and themes to keep their brands relevant.
Let us look at some fashion marketing trends that have emerged in 2021. After all, these trends will continue to remain relevant in the years to come.
As we enter a second year plagued by COVID-19, all industries have had to pivot back and analyze their operations to be prepared for what is still an uncertain future. While marketing was shifting from traditional to digital marketing even before the pandemic, brands that were still planning to make the shift in the future had to fast-track their plans.
Success in the fashion industry has always depended on brands building brand value through relationships and experiences. However, according to Jay Pattisall, principal analyst on advertising and digital marketing at Forrester, 2020 saw fashion brands focusing less on marketing projects that generated revenue. They also focused more on long-term transformations and strong connections with customers. In an already competitive market, brands realized that building a more robust relationship was more important. Not just for survival but for long-term success as well. To build success, fashion marketers have to research current trends and their different target audiences. They have to figure out how to connect with their customers while inspiring them to develop an interest in the product and the brand.
Let us look at some trends that have remained relevant and have emerged in the fashion industry in the past year. These trends will continue to work for marketing professionals and fashion brands.
1) Fashion got political
Last year, besides dealing with the pandemic, we saw a lot of cultural and political change from the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as a divisive US presidential election. While other companies maintained a neutral stance, many fashion brands opted to pick a side. Since consumers are leaning more and more towards brands whose values align with theirs, fashion brands have had a brand message that customers can relate with.
After the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, the 15 Percent Pledge was implemented to call attention to US retailers to match their representation of Black business owners to the Black population of America. With more US citizens voicing their opinions of the current situation, clothing with political slogans have made a comeback.
2) Rise of short-form and shoppable videos
Social media platforms have presented a faster and easier way for fashion brands to connect with their audiences. Instagram has already provided an effective way for brands to create high-quality and engaging content to reach their consumers. With the rise of TikTok, the video-sharing platform has helped create short-form videos that appeal to a younger audience. Social media has also given a voice to previously underserved communities in fashion like body-positivity advocates and sustainability activists. According to Kristina Karassoulis, the TikTok luxury brand partnerships lead for Europe, the success of this type of videos and platforms like TikTok is due to Gen Z and millennials.
Along with social media content, other organic and earned media are essential for fashion brands to gain media coverage and establish credibility in the industry. While many established brands may already have a PR and marketing team, some brands do it on their own, with a limited budget. If the latter is the case for you, PR agencies like Pressfarm can help you to create newsworthy content that will capture media attention and inspire your target audience. Even better, they can hep you do this at an affordable fee.
The PR professionals and expert writers at Pressfarm create all kinds of content ranging from email pitches to press releases, guest posts and press kits – all of which can help you build a memorable brand image.
The Pressfarm team also understands that there are cases where brands need more than one press release. If you need multiple press releases, they can provide advice for the best timing to send out each press release. Pressfarm also offers advice on the best distribution channels, and the best media professionals for each brand. With Pressfarm, you can boost online visibility for your brand and reach more people with your inspiring story.
3) eCommerce continues to grow
Online shopping was already quite popular before the pandemic. However, with COVID-19 lockdowns and consumers still wary of shopping at physical stores. Businesses have had to shift to eCommerce to survive. While many consumers were hesitant to buy clothing online in the past because they weren’t sure whether they would receive the right products, the emergence of new technology has changed their skepticism. Many eCommerce retailers have been improving the online shopping experience through virtual, augmented reality technology, which gives shoppers the ability to “try” on clothes using a virtual dressing room so they can make their decision easier.
4) Ethical and sustainable buying behaviour
While corporate social responsibility and sustainability do not directly impact sales, it helps brands establish awareness of these topics among their community. As more people, celebrities and average consumers alike bring attention to social issues related to the fashion industry, more brands have had to take a stand to deal with textile waste and other ethical issues.
According to Anya Hindmarch, a leading fashion, luxury, and beauty expert, both customers and brands need to meet in the middle to make the fashion industry more responsible. Currently, she believes that the fashion industry is in a transition phase. Consumers are more likely to consume less but pay more if brands were to accept a lower profit margin. While fast fashion is predominantly about volume, it is possible to get consumer behaviour to shift once again by designing sustainable clothing that will last longer and be chic for years to come. COVID-19 has driven brands and consumers to focus more on sustainability and responsibility. This allows brands that have already integrated it into their internal and external strategies to flourish.
As people begin to look down on fast fashion because of its ethical implications regarding sustainability and human rights, slow fashion has become a popular alternative. A big part of this trend involves brands creating “seasonless” fashion with the intention for clothing to be used throughout the year for a long time. The goal was to go against season trends and urge designers to create pieces that will remain in style. This has allowed brands to develop higher-quality pieces with higher price tags that consumers are willing to spend money on.
5) Inclusivity prevails
In the past many consumers have voiced frustration at the lack of clothing options to fit diverse body types. Many brands in the past failed to create clothing that fit people that did not wear the conventional sizes. Even before 2020, more brands were attempting to embrace body positivity and celebrate bodies of all shapes and sizes. This has led to a more inclusive fashion “standard.” Inclusivity isn’t just about body shapes; it has also involved creating neutral pieces for people of various skin tones. By creating styles that work for more people, the fashion industry has added more representation to their campaigns. Progressive brands have also started hiring models of different races with different body types for consumers to see people who look like them and who they can relate to.
6) Fashion week turns into entertainment
According to Rod Manley, chief marketing officer at Burberry, there was a stigma in the fashion industry that digital brands were not considered a luxury. However, digital marketing now offers a meaningful way for brands to connect with audiences and express creativity. Currently, fashion marketers believe that rather than focusing on selling to an industry audience, they need to find ways to provide an interactive brand experience. For example, Burberry became the first luxury fashion brand to partner with Twitch, the world’s leading live streaming platform for gamers. This partnership enabled viewers to watch and interact in chat rooms about their Spring/Summer 2021 show. Other luxury brands followed suit, with Prada hosting a virtual show that encouraged audience participation with co-creative directors Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. Additionally, Gucci created a virtual fashion film festival that premiered its new collection and its seasonless events.
Show streaming is nothing new. Even so, many brands have only recently stated that, by collaborating with platforms like Twitch, they can offer consumers an interactive experience. These brand experiences make a more memorable impression than any paid advertisement you could put out.
7) The promise of gaming
Along with platforms like Twitch, luxury brands and others have also been exploring gaming to connect with younger audiences. In the gaming industry these days, audience size, engagement, rate of innovation, and production quality rival many traditional sports and entertainment platforms. According to Naz Aletaha, head of global esports partnerships and business development at Riot Games, brands want to be where their audiences are. In the past, many fashion brands have associated themselves with film, music, and other forms of entertainment to merely be a part of the conversation and connect with audiences with different passions.
It seems that brands finally understand that it is not just about getting the attention of many people; it is more about tailoring campaigns to an audience that is more receptive and values the brand message more. An example of this is when Louis Vuitton teamed up with Riot Games for skins for avatars and a Louis Vuitton x League of Legends capsule collection. This was the first-ever collaboration between a gaming company and a luxury brand.
8) Increase in sales of comfortable clothing
Since many people have turned to working from home and online classes, fashion is placing more of a priority on comfort. With people being stuck at home, there has been a significant boost in athleisure and loungewear sales. Through their assessment and knowledge of fashion trends, many fashion brands have realized that comfort has become an essential part of our new normal.
There has also been a renewed interest and rising demand for wellness-themed products. This has encouraged many fashion brands to deepen their relationship with athletes. They’re focusing on creating products that will resonate better with their audiences. More people in these audiences are focusing on staying fit and healthy during social distancing. Sports brands have also spent more time creating products to help consumers on their fitness journey while also letting them lounge. Even the beauty industry has been getting more in the trend by focusing more on skincare products and items that people can use to relax when they are sitting at home.
9) The growth of “reCommerce”
Thrift and consignment shopping is nothing new, but it has become more popular. This is because people are selling items they do not use anymore or looking for products but at a lower price. The eCommerce trend came about partly because of the shift towards eco-friendly buying and reducing waste. We’ve also seen an increase in “upcycling,” when someone takes an article of clothing and DIYs to match their style and repurposing pieces. Consumer-to-consumer marketplaces like DePop and Facebook are the powerhouses that have facilitated the trend.
Regardless of the role a person plays in the fashion industry, it is evident that it evolves more rapidly than other sectors. With COVID-19 changing consumer behaviour, brands need to make sure that they thoroughly understand the current consumer’s needs and wants and know how to reach them. Social media platforms have become an essential part of everyone’s lives. They function as a way to gain information about just about everything. To embrace the shift toward digital marketing, brands need to understand the importance of these platforms and the influencers that drive them.